KAIROS Canada condemns the assault and killing of people aboard the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza
KAIROS joins churches and concerned people from around world in condemning the assault and killing of innocent people aboard the humanitarian convoy headed to the Gaza Strip. On May 31st, the Israeli Navy boarded a ship in international waters that was attempting to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza, who have been under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007. At least 9 civilians were killed in the subsequent assault. All on board the four ships were arrested and detained.
KAIROS urges our government to join the international community in condemning the attack and to support an independent investigation into Israel’s deadly commando raid and an end to the Gaza blockade.
Israel justified the boarding of the ships in international waters as an act of self-defence. While Israel has the right to prevent arms from coming into Gaza, each ship had been searched by Turkish authorities and no weapons had been found. Organisers of the flotilla maintain they were in constant contact with the Israeli authorities before the ships set out. This was a humanitarian mission the intent of which was non-violent.
The Israeli Navy’s deadly raid on the flotilla has awakened a storm of criticism, leading to a growing call on Israel to lift its years-long blockade of food, medicines and other basic materials urgently needed by Gaza’s population.
More than 80% of Palestinians in Gaza rely on humanitarian assistance, according to the UN, with food aid going to about 1.1 million people, or three quarters of the population. A coalition of agencies operating in Gaza has called the humanitarian crisis in the strip the worst since Israel occupied it in the 1967 war. (See a report by Christian Aid, ‘The Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion’ )
The Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees, a long-time Canadian church and KAIROS partner, has managed to keep its office open and tries to witness to the impact of the blockade. (See a report via Action by Churches Together, “We are Captive and Slowly Suffocating” )
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has encouraged people of conscience to draw the world’s attention to the “terrible suffering of Gaza’s 1.5 million people, half of whom are children under the age of 18”. The punishment of Gaza’s inhabitants for the election of Hamas has been counterproductive and will not contribute to the building of long-term peace. According to Archbishop Tutu and other members of the Elders, a group of eminent global leaders, the siege on Gaza by Israel “creates unacceptable suffering, in the process empowering extremists and undermining moderate forces in Gaza.”
We pray for all those who are affected by the attack, especially the bereaved families, the suffering people of Gaza, and the three Canadians present with the flotilla. KAIROS urges those involved with the flotilla to maintain their stance against violence. We again urge the Canadian government to join the international community in condemning this assault and in calling for an end to the blockade of Gaza.
For more information, contact John Lewis, Program Coordinator for International Human Rights, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-463-5312 ext. 224.
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